Raccoons of Costa Rica

Common Name:

Type: Mammal

Family: Procyonids

Range: The Raccoon is an animal that is found mainly in forests near streams. It is also found in small wooded countryside, suburbs and cities where it accommodates well to human presence. Throughout U.S., Mexico, and Costa Rica.

Size: The Raccoon is a robust animal of medium size, measuring 0.65 to 0.96 meter in total length

Weight: It is weighing between 6.5 and 16 kg. The male is usually larger than females.

Diet: The omnivorous diet of the raccoon is very varied. Indeed he eats just about everything he encounters. Raccoon eats a wide variety of small aquatic animals, water crayfish, oysters, clams and insect larvae. On land, earthworms, slugs, frogs, salamanders, turtles, snakes, insects and even birds and small muskrats and rabbits are his delight. An important part of their diet is vegetation. It feeds on berries, acorns and loves corn. When they have the opportunity, he digs in the garbage to find a good meal! With such a wide choice of food, it is not surprising that it takes a lot of weight during the season of plenty of food and can easily weigh in fall twice its weight of spring.

Average life span: Raccoons usually saw only 2 or 3 years in the wild, but some can live up to 13 years. The longevity record is 22 years in captivity.

Habitat: Raccoons are solitary animals and peaceful. It has no territorial instinct and is usually not disturbed by the presence of other raccoons on his side, unless they compete among themselves for access to food. Found in plains, mountains, desert, broken forests and tropics.

Breeding/Reproduction: The mating season among raccoons occurs in winter. The male moves from one burrow to another, trying to find females in heat. Rutting season: January, February, Duration of gestation: 63 days, Number of litters per year, Number of young per litter: 1-7, usually 4-5, calving period: April to May.

Raccoon is a mammal native throughout North America and are available throughout Costa Rica. Average raccoon is 16 to 28 inches in length and 8 to 20 lbs in weight which makes them the largest of the procyonid family. Also males are perceived as 15% to 20 % much heavier than female. Mostly raccoons has grayish coat which is almost 90% dense under fur. This helps them being insulated during winter season. They had extremely adept front paws that they used in examining objects or food. Also they are tagged as “Masked Bandit” since the area around the eyes has black fur which is opposite to the white face coloring similar to a bandit’s mask. Raccoons are believed to be poorly to identify colors though their eyes are well adapted for green light. Their dark mask helps reduce flare and thus enhance their vision during night time. Since raccoons are usually nocturnal they hunt food and are mostly active during night time. Their sense of smell however proves to be useful for communication. They used their urine and feces for marking things. It was been studied that their auditory range can perceive tones up to 50-85 kHz. They can even hear as quiet as the noises of earthworms underground.

The habitat of the raccoons is mostly in mixed forests of North America. They can be found in tree hallows and cracks on big rocks. During winter they can use burrows dug by another mammals and in urban areas they are visible sleeping in roadside culverts or even some attics. Since they can easily adapt to its environment raccoons can also be seen in mountainous areas as well as coastal marshes and now in urban areas. Today to hasten their numbers some scientist made deliberate introductions between male and female then distributed them across Europe, the Caucus Region and even Japan. Raccoon’s diet during spring till autumn consists mostly of insects, worms, and other animals. But they fancy acorns and walnuts better. They also eat birds and mammals but the usually prefer prey like fish and amphibians since it is easier to catch. They eat rich calorie foods to gain body fat in preparation for winter. Thus, they weigh much on winter than on spring because of the stored body fats.

Raccoons are known to have high intelligence with studies showing that they can remember things and solutions of tasks up to three years. They are considered as land animals but they can also swim with an average of 5 km/h and can stay for several hours in water.

Damages in their natural habitat due to modernization, raccoon hunting and fur harvesting for clothes are some of the major reasons on their declining in numbers. No wonder some raccoons such as the Bahaman Raccoon ((P. l. maynardi) was listed in 1996 by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as endangered.

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